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“I am happy the race is over since the pain is gone, but I am sad to never come back here as a bike rider. It is a big chapter of my life that will be closed," Voigt says

Photo: Sirotti




18.05.2014 @ 23:43 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Jens Voigt has always been a fan favourite in the USA and today he put in one final show for the Californian fans when he joined the early break in the final stage of the Tour of California. With his career coming to an end later this year, he was sad to never return to one of his favourite races as a bike rider.


Jens Voigt finally escaped the clutches of the peloton. After numerous attempts all week the final 122.4-kilometer stage of the Amgen Tour of California proved to be his moment. Unfortunately, his legs did not agree.


“Today it seemed that they were willing to let a group go away quickly," he said. " After five or six tries I managed to catch the right one, but unfortunately I could feel right away that I was not having my best day. It was not easy to catch the break and I knew then I was not going to be the strongest guy out there. At least it was a good feeling to be out front, get the nose in the wind, show your face, and entertain the fans a little bit.  I always try to be part of the race - it felt good.”


The eighth and final stage included three large circuits, followed by three smaller laps in Thousand Oaks. It was a parcours that was 'touch and go' for the sprinters with three ascents of the tough Rock Store climb.


The last two of the early seven rider breakaway scrambled over the third and final ascent as seconds behind a hard-chasing peloton splintered under a vicious pace. Over the top a small group of around 20-25 crested – with a remarkable Danny van Poppel making the selection – but all was for naught as everything regrouped on the final circuits in town, and a large bunch sprint ensued.


“The first time on the dangerous downhill I crashed," Van Poppel said. "The second time up the climb, 3k before the top, I had a flat tire. That was a very hard effort for me to come back. The last time over the climb I made it in the front group of maybe 20 riders. That was very impressive for me. I even had (Laurens) ten Dam joke with me to ask if was actually a climber not a sprinter!"


On the penultimate lap a large group, which included Mark Cavendish, latched on from behind. Omega Pharma-QuickStep immediately swarmed the front and led a sharp pace for the final few kilometers. The top sprinters, all in the front positions, flew around the final corner, and at the line it was Mark Cavendish sprinting to his second win of the eight -day race. John Degenkolb (Giant- Shimano) was a close second, and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) rounded out the top three.


“It was too bad that the big group came back on the three local laps," Van Poppel said. "I sat in Sagan’s wheel, but I was in the wind, and in the end I think I waited too long to go. But I am happy with this race, I am coming out of this race feeling really, really good.”


The race began as all others with an early breakaway jumping up the road. It was Jens Voigt’s last chance to be in a move and at last he succeeded by uniting with six other escapees. However, on the penultimate climb four of the group, including Jens, lost contact and were soon swept up by the pursuing peloton.


With Jens Voigt announcing he will retire at the end of the year this was his last race at the Amgen Tour of California, and he leaves with mixed emotions.


“I am happy the race is over since the pain is gone, but I am sad to never come back here as a bike rider. It is a big chapter of my life that will be closed.”


Matthew Busche, despite getting caught up in a nasty crash on the first descent, and batling back from a late puncture, finished with the front group.  Haimar Zubeldia was the highest placed in the overall in 12th, with Matthew Busche just behind in 13th.



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